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Panetta to meet Barak, Netanyahu, Peres in quick trip to Israel

JTA

August 1, 2012 | 8:33 am

Israel's President Shimon Peres (left) greets U.S. Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta before their meeting in Jerusalem on August 1. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Israel's President Shimon Peres (left) greets U.S. Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta before their meeting in Jerusalem on August 1. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Israel to discuss United States-Israel defense ties and the potential threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Panetta will meet with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.

“We are a friend, we are a partner, we have — as the defense minister has pointed out — probably the strongest US-Israel defense relationship that we have had in history,” Panetta told reporters before the meeting, according to the Associated Press and Times of Israel. “What we are doing, working together, is an indication not only of our friendship but of our alliance to work together to try to preserve peace in the future.”

Panetta did not go into specifics on the Iran discussions, but said that he and Israeli officials would be “discussing various contingencies and how we would respond.”

On Tuesday, President Obama announced tougher sanctions on Iran’s energy sector and banks, according to the AP.

Also on Tuesday, Netanyahu told Israeli Channel 2 News that he had not yet made a decision on whether to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, but urged military and security officials to keep the debate over such a strike out of the public sphere.

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